A marxist reading of Fitzgerald’s Novel: The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned
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Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s great novels The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned are at the heart of my thesis. Tales of Romantic love and unfulfilled passion on the surface, these two novels are based on a capitalist world, American in the ‘Roaring Twenties’ where each character’s single purpose in life is money and material pleasure. These two novels are basically Fitzgerald’s critique on materialism and corruption of the American society evident in 1920’s and ironically still to this day. Money, wealth and class are recurring themes of these novels and the characters constantly fight the feeling that they are limited by the amount of money they make. Most importantly, their values and morality, if any, are blinded with the pursuit of money and material accomplishments. Central to this is the concept of ‘American dream, myth to some and an unattainable reality to others. Through the narratives of Nick Carraway and Adam Patch these novels track the evolution and deterioration of the concept of the American dream and how the concept of ‘self reliance’ and hard work was completely replaced by the reliance on short cuts, as such bootlegging, gambling and smuggling. Ironically, extreme pursuit of money fails to provide them with a fulfilled life and in turn often causes fatal consequences as seen in these two novels. But what interest me most is that other than critiquing the materialistic attitude of his contemporary society, Fitzgerald seems to provide an account of self criticism through works as he was known as the star of the ‘Jazz age’. I have organized my paper into four chapters and the novels are examined from a Marxist lens with important autobiographical facts of the author. The novel The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned are the primary sources and I have used different books, articles to balance the discussion and provide a valid analytical perspective. Together it explores how Fitzgerald has used the theme of American dream as a means of social criticism to show the fall of human values in the modern era.